Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday she would ease some restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including ending a prohibition on youth sports practice.
Camping at state parks will reopen Oct. 1, the governor said in a news conference streamed live on Facebook. Groups will be limited to 10 people or fewer.
Lujan Grisham also announced that swimming pools, ice skating rinks and pumpkin patches will be allowed to operate.
"Masks must be worn in all circumstances" except if you're in a swimming pool, she said.
While youth sports teams will be able to return to practice, she said, contact play remains off-limits and no more than 10 athletes can compete in practice at one time.
The seven-day average of new novel coronavirus cases in New Mexico was 90 this week, well below the state's target of 168.
The transmission rate has dropped to 0.89 — below the goal of 1.05. A spread rate less than 1 means the disease is in decline.
Lujan Grisham said the state's gating criteria are "overall, doing really well."
State Environment Secretary James Kenney said the agency has completed 2,503 rapid responses to workplace reports of infections among employees.
Rapid responses peaked in July.
"Since then, they've started to come down," Kenney said.
The health care industry has the most rapid responses, accounting for 18.5 percent of all investigations.
The average time a business is closed when there is a rapid response is about one day, Kenney said.
"Most businesses are receptive" to having officials investigate when an employee tests positive, he said.
The governor warned that "none of this should be an indicator that the virus is gone."
"Don't let your guard down," she said.
The governor was asked why New Mexico is holding back on reopening more activities when it is doing better than other states in terms of its gating criteria.
Lujan Grisham said her decisions are based on "how much risk you're willing to take."
She also pointed out that New Mexico has fewer health care resources than other states.
"There's a lot to lose here," she said.
The governor said she knows many residents are itching to get back to normal, but noted that the pandemic is far from over.
"We need to stay safe in every context," Lujan Grisham said.
State officials are working to address isolation and other issues related to the public health crisis.
"There is no playbook for this pandemic," she said, adding, "The challenges for every family in New Mexico are considerable."
Pam Coleman, who oversees the state's census efforts, joined the news conference to encourage everyone to fill out their household census forms.
"My message to everyone listening ... if you're waiting for the perfect time to get counted, today's the day," Coleman said. "If you're waiting, please don't wait any longer."
The deadline to complete the census is Sept. 30.
Coleman said 88.6 percent of New Mexicans have already participated in the census. The state receives $7.8 billion in federal aid each year based on census data.
"We're counting on you New Mexico to get counted," Coleman said.